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View Full Version : Video Game "Addiction"/Rating Overhaul



spiritbear99
June 27th, 2007, 10:22 PM
As told in a recent article on GameSpot (http://www.gamespot.com/news/6173252.html?action=convert&om_clk=latestnews&tag=latestnews;title;0), US physicians are urging the ESRB rating system to reflect health issues linked to excessive gaming and internet usage. The initial goal was to push video game "addiction" as a real diagnosis, but after review it was replaced by video game and media "overuse". The full article is in the link.

Here is my take on the issue...

QUOTE: "The AMA report also advocated a new nationwide initiative by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians to "educate physicians on the public health risks of media exposure and how to assess media usage in their pediatric populations and provide families with educational materials on the appropriate use of video games.'"

So where was the report when TVs became mainstream? Where was the report when books became mainstream? All of the above MAY correlate to laziness, obesity, poor eyesite, "socially maladaptive behaviors", and "overuse syndromes", but I don't think any of them CAUSE it. There is no basis to say "addiction" and throw another stupid pill onto the market, and it's not quite appropriate to use the word "overuse" either. Anything not done in moderation can be bad: drinking, tanning, eating are just a few examples. I feel that this is just an attempt for 1) those in the government against gaming to strike back, 2) those in the medical field to gain more profit by creating another "addiction" and "solution".

QUOTE: "ESRB president Patricia Vance responded to the AMA's directives by pointing out the ESRB ratings system's has been praised as "effective" by the FTC in the past. "While we agree with the AMA that parents should play an active role in determining which games their children play, their call for a review of the ESRB rating system seems to disregard the fact that the vast majority of parents are satisfied with ESRB ratings and use them regularly to choose games for their children," she told GameSpot via e-mail."

I have been working at a video game store for about a year and a half. I am required to tell the parent or guardian of anyone under the age of 17 what the game contains. 7 out of 10 parents DO NOT CARE. Many a time have I sold a Grand Theft Auto game (drugs, alcohol, strong sexual content, pervasive language, cop-killing, prostitution) to the parent of an 8-year-old who couldn't care less. I have even had quite a few occasions where the parent dropped their little kid off at the store for a few hours and expected us to choose a game for them. Parents like these are the problem... not the kids, not the games. Many parents are not active in the gaming life, or even the every-day life, of their child. It is the responsibility of the parent to teach the child moderation and that the game is not reality!

I enjoy video games very much. I use them as a source of entertainment, just like the internet, books, and TV. But that is all they are: forms of entertainment. They should not be the core of anyone's life. There are many educational shows and games, but there are also some vile and twisted ones. It is up to the parent to decide what is appropriate and teach their children moderation rather than being incompetent and throwing another pill at the problem.

aeroeng
June 28th, 2007, 01:02 PM
I agree. I don't believe there is a specific "video game addiction". But rather a person with an addictive personality that has become fixated on video games. Should the fact that person is addicted to video games play a roll in curbing that addiction? Sure. Does it need it's own label? No.

I do recognize the addictive nature of video games, especially MMORPGs (I play several myself).

Also, I don't see how the ESRB ratings would reflect video game addiction anyway. How do they know before the game is released that it could foster addiction? ANY GAME can do it... even something as simple as minesweeper all the way to a complex world filled with other human players acting as characters and interacting in various ways. Would a game get the added rating of "A" - could cause video game addiction? Please, actually that's pretty funny and would almost like to see it. I'm content with the ratings as they are, although I barely notice the ones that don't become "newsworthy". Kinda like movie ratings....

bigolalaskan
June 28th, 2007, 04:40 PM
Aeroeng, I'm glad you recognize the addictive nature of MMORPGs. For the addictive personality, MMORPG's are suicide to a relationship.

This is a VERY sore point with me. My ex was an EQA (Everquest Addict). However, most of his addiction related to the ... I'm sorry, I can't even find an G rated description of the ... I call her Twunt -- G rated but ya get the point -- his current wife.

I found EQ Widows on Yahoo groups too late. There are over 7,000 members on that site, and let's just say 20% are active readers. The story is always the same. The pain of those left behind in the house, is always the same. It is real, it is a problem that will still not get recognized as a legitimate addiction. I equate the the addiction to MMORPGs to that of gambling, porn, etc.

Studies have PROVEN that the nature of MMORPG's activate the same brain chemicals as cocaine. Nick Yee has done some extensive research on the subject: http://www.nickyee.com/hub/addiction/home.html

Is every player an addict? NO WAY. But if you have had addiction problems (cocaine, alcohol, gambling) or are depressed, having problems in your marriage, wanting to escape from something or someone, stay away from these games. The alternate reality that they provide will suck you in. All the sudden you've gone from having a life that sucks, to being the hero, or the arch enemy, or anyone you want to be. People that wouldn't even give you eye contact on the street, will be flowing words of praise to you. You find yourself disliking the life outside the game more and more. You find yourself not having sex with your partner (a common sympton -- sex-drive becames almost non-existent). You find yourself, and I'm not kidding here, 16 to 20 hours a day on the game for one reason or another. Your guild members become your most respected advisors. Hell, they'll even tell ya that your wifes skin yeast infections are venereal (real - happened to me -- was his proof I was unfaithful).

With my ex, I was told I was "too fat for any man to f(*&" . . . I laugh my head off at that now, because he had just "married" (online marriage) , a woman almost 30 years his junior. He didn't touch me afterwards. Come to find out . . . she's fatter than I was. Reality really has harsh consequences, especially when you don't have webcams . . . LOL. Me controlling, nagging, etc.? LOL his karma is marrying her, having a kid, losing every inch of backbone he ever had, and losing the love and respect of his children from my womb.

Anyway, is it an addiction: HELL YES. Should be posted as a warning? How do you stop an alcholic from drinking? You don't. But you let the spouses and families of the addict know there is help:

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/EverQuest-Widows/
http://eqdailygrind.blogspot.com
http://www.olganon.org

And one day soon, families against everquest will be up and running again when I get the money to start up with a new server.

Jennie (i.e. ladywoherlord, EQ Widow)

spiritbear99
June 28th, 2007, 08:28 PM
Thanks for the replies, it's good to talk about these things :D

I agree with both of you, and I'm glad someone brought up MMOs. I have been involved in two in the past: Monster Hunter (ps2, although not quite an mmo) and Final Fantasy XI (pc). I stopped playing MH because people eventually quit and I had finished practically everything in the game with over 200+ hours. I neglected neither my relationships, college, nor work... I just had free time in between. And it was fun, but time to move on. FFXI I quit after 2 months because it felt like work! You have to spend hours leveling just to go on a cool mission and buying/selling can take 2 seconds or several weeks. It sucked. And I know I'm going to stay away from WoW (World of Warcraft, largest MMO at this time).

But here is the thing for me... many people do not know moderation, they don't know when to say no and quit. This is similar in some cases to smoking and over-eating; sometimes it is a matter of willpower. But as with anything of the same nature, there will be cases where people get "addicted" and can't see life without it. Again, this can be said with books (I've known people that try to make stories into reality) and TV (trying to live a soap opera). Why should games be any different? You'll notice that this issue has surfaced within the last couple years because the gaming industry is reaching out to everyone now. This same exact thing happened when the internet became mainstream and is still being debated because it is so influential on the media and the daily lives of millions.

I am sorry about what happened to your ex, but honestly, you're probably better off without him. You don't need someone cruel like that! I don't think he was necessarily "addicted" clinically, but weak-minded and put his pleasures over your needs and his responsibilities. I see husbands and a couple wives like this every once and a while becayse I work in a game store. I have no respect for those people because they make their relationships and jobs suffer. Oddly enough, many young soldiers play WoW and on many gaming sites the military has ads all over the place.

About your article. The natural brain substance he equates to "cocaine" is endorphins. It is released anytime someone experiences something pleasurable. Even simple things like eating, running, sex, or laughing produces endorphins. You've heard of "comfort foods", right? Most definitely games and other activities will release these chemicals. The only time this would be dangerous is if the person has such strong feelings of happiness playing a game that he or she goes through a sort of "endorphin withdrawl" when not playing. This is exactly how you put it earlier about games sometimes being like porn or gambling; someone that cannot be aroused unless looking at porn has an addiction to it, someone that doesn't feel on edge, risky, and "alive" unless gambling has an addiction.

Also, you were exactly right about the "escapism" problem. I think that is the real issue and why so many people turn to outside sources of pleasure, such as gaming, gambling, internet, and TV. Usually, it's just that the person cannot imagine happiness outside of the activity (because maybe their life isn't going well) and views it as a sole source of happiness (or a way to release endorphins) in their lives, but in rare cases the person's bodily chemicals are so out of order that replacement substances such as pills are needed to restore balance. I just have this feeling that people want the easy road out and throw a pill at the problem instead of taking control and not letting those "happy things" control their lives. This is a hard thing to tackle and pills are there to help, but most of the battle is WANTING to make a positive change.

Yes, I do think there are cases where people are addicted, but I think the real problem for most of those people is wanting to escape reality, wanting only their own pleasure, or just not wanting to say no. And this is not a problem monopolized by gaming, but anything and everything people may find pleasurable.

But yeah, I'm glad you're out of that negative relationship ^_^

-- Gally

aeroeng
June 29th, 2007, 09:12 AM
Sorry to hear about your past relationship Bigolalaskan.

In my post I was trying to make sure that I didn't compare being addicted to playing video games to other addictions like cocaine or alcohol, because those addictions (besides being psychological) have a much more physiological side to them (besides the releasing of endorphins). However, comparing it to gambling is a decent analogy.

But how do you help someone that is addicted to video games? Where do you define the addiction level? Hours of play per week? Also, what does declaring a "video game addiction" buy you in terms of treatment options? I'm not experienced with how people get treated for gambling addictions, but I imagine that with most non-chemical addictions (the ones that aren't drug related), it's more about fixing the reasons for the escapism or the need to feel alive (or the depression if that's the case). So for video games, I think just recognizing that the person has an addiction problem, that just happen to focus on gaming, should suffice in terms of how to go about treating it.

I do agree that a positive of maybe creating a true label of "video game addiction" would be that maybe loved ones would be able to find support groups and other help easier. For instance, I had no idea that there was an EQ widows group on yahoo.

I used to play FFXI for a total of about 2.5 years. But the problem was that it was just too time consuming (especially once you got up there in levels). To Square Enix's credit, they do have a warning in the game that you have to acknowledge each time you play to try and remind everyone that this is a game and not to ignore you REAL LIFE (i.e. friends, loved ones, work, school, etc). Not sure how effective that is, but goes to show that even the creators of these games realize that there are people that could allow there lives to be ruled by the games.

I've never played Evercrack...er, I mean Everquest. Currently I play City of Heroes. My brother and his friends (with whom I'm friends with) play it too. What I like about that game is that it's designed to let you play for a half hour or 6 hours if you want. I can go on for an hour or two a couple times a week and still feel like I accomplished something at the end of each little session.

Also, just thought of this... what might also help feed the addiction of MMO's is the monthly fee (in addition to the fact that you still interact with live people...albeit in a virtual reality). Because of this fee, people may feel they HAVE to play to be getting their money's worth. While maybe not a huge player in the reasons for 10-20 hours of straight playtime (I can't even look at a screen that long without my eyes hurting), it may factor in.

Sitalique
June 29th, 2007, 09:29 AM
Think I can safely call my hubby and EQ addict. We both play but the difference between him and me is that he will go on any chance he gets and would rather play than leave the house and do something. Oh and not wanting to stop paying for it for even a month. For 3 accounts (his, mine and a mule/MM third. Anyone playing eq will probably know what I mean).

Me, I can take or leave it. It's something that's a bit of fun and you can get away from the stress of the day for a few hours. But would much rather go out to a park or a movie or something.

spiritbear99
June 29th, 2007, 12:26 PM
Also, just thought of this... what might also help feed the addiction of MMO's is the monthly fee (in addition to the fact that you still interact with live people...albeit in a virtual reality). Because of this fee, people may feel they HAVE to play to be getting their money's worth. While maybe not a huge player in the reasons for 10-20 hours of straight playtime (I can't even look at a screen that long without my eyes hurting), it may factor in.

Yes, yes, I've felt that with FFXI. That's another reason why I quit. I felt obligated to pay because I was paying for it and wanted to get my worth out of it >_> Lol.

spiritbear99
June 29th, 2007, 12:28 PM
For 3 accounts (his, mine and a mule/MM third. Anyone playing eq will probably know what I mean).

Mules plague the virtual cities like they're homeless people or something <_< It's crazy... sometimes the lag makes me want to kick them >.<

Sitalique
June 29th, 2007, 01:01 PM
Mules plague the virtual cities like they're homeless people or something <_< It's crazy... sometimes the lag makes me want to kick them >.<
at least in EQ they've set up the bazzar for mules.

so you really don't have to deal with them unless you want to actually buy something.

spiritbear99
June 29th, 2007, 01:35 PM
at least in EQ they've set up the bazzar for mules.

so you really don't have to deal with them unless you want to actually buy something.

In FFXI, mules were scattered all over the city, especially around the auction houses ^^; It was crazy, especially when someone shouted that they were ending the game and selling all there stuff for $1 >____>

bigolalaskan
June 29th, 2007, 07:52 PM
There was one night I was pretty well lit, found out the Woman was moving from Vegas to Anchorage to make my home hers, I tried to break into his account and sell off his level 60 maj and all his epic goods. Now I wish I had been able to too just to piss the old fart off.

And yes, my life is 199% better now that I have gotten over the shock of it all. I'm just trying to say that this is a TRUE addiction for those with addictive personalities. You can't go to EQ Wids and believe all of them are just whiny controlling spouses (not your words, the words of players who sometimes troll in there to make fun of them). Lives are destroyed by this addiction. And like all addictions, there is nothing anyone can really do about it. The spouse or loved ones just have to decide if they're willing to put up with it, live with it, or leave. You can't make them stop unless they want to stop.

Most, if not all, of the major software houses have shrinks employed to help find the gimics that will keep people playing (read an article on the Virtual Skinner box on Nick Yee's website regarding the reward / pleasure triggers employed by games). The owner of one of the links above was a game programmer and dealt with all this until her son blew his brains out (he had emotional problems before EQ) over something that happened in the game. She now champions the education of the dangers of these games for SOME people.

I see a difference in my youngest child if I've let him play too long on video games. He becomes depressed, disrespectful, and verbally abusive. He's got many of the same personality traits as his dad. When I see that happening, I know I have to kick the boy outside and let him work the other side of his brain for a while.

And to equate it to overeating: You got it right on the nail with that one. I am an overeater. Its an addiction, one I've been battling all my adult life. It's hard to break. Through work with the Goddess, I'm doing better at the binge eating and trying to control the urges to not eat whats good for me vs. what gives me more pleasure. With me it's all pleasure seeking to feed those needs. I have found one distraction, but for it to work it needs to be regular. One of these days I will find a willing participant . . . LOL

Jen

Infinite Grey
June 29th, 2007, 08:34 PM
Games are addictive, in a similar way as the internet... Unlike Movies, TV, magazines, radio and books - Games allow a true escape from reality, the player having the ability to control and interact with the world within the game's context. A person can be hero, a villain, a tycoon, a space adventurer, a general, an alien, an elf, a blob, a car, a criminal, a cop... anything really. While other media allows for this in a limited sense, you can't BE yourself in those roles.

spiritbear99
June 29th, 2007, 11:13 PM
Lives are destroyed by this addiction. And like all addictions, there is nothing anyone can really do about it. The spouse or loved ones just have to decide if they're willing to put up with it, live with it, or leave. You can't make them stop unless they want to stop.

True; again, half the battle is wanting to change. But unfortunately, some people don't want to and they make others suffer as they sacrifice their relationships and jobs over a silly virtual "life"... I don't understand how they could do that just because it's more "fun" than real life. Those characters aren't real! For those people, it IS an addiction and they need help.



Most, if not all, of the major software houses have shrinks employed to help find the gimics that will keep people playing (read an article on the Virtual Skinner box on Nick Yee's website regarding the reward / pleasure triggers employed by games). The owner of one of the links above was a game programmer and dealt with all this until her son blew his brains out (he had emotional problems before EQ) over something that happened in the game. She now champions the education of the dangers of these games for SOME people.

Wow, I didn't know that! I thought they only had a designing/marketing department that made the games seem "better" than reality. That's a whole other level of sickness. Frankly, it's disgusting. I already have my grudges against people in marketing... Have you ever seen a commercial that said, "you are okay as you are"? No, they're always "you NEED this" to be attractive, or happy, or fulfilled, etc. I hate all of it. This is a major reason why there are so many depressed and angry people that just can't be happy with who they are naturally.



I see a difference in my youngest child if I've let him play too long on video games. He becomes depressed, disrespectful, and verbally abusive. He's got many of the same personality traits as his dad. When I see that happening, I know I have to kick the boy outside and let him work the other side of his brain for a while.

You go, mom! Don't ever let that kid go down like that.



And to equate it to overeating: You got it right on the nail with that one. I am an overeater. Its an addiction, one I've been battling all my adult life. It's hard to break. Through work with the Goddess, I'm doing better at the binge eating and trying to control the urges to not eat whats good for me vs. what gives me more pleasure. With me it's all pleasure seeking to feed those needs. I have found one distraction, but for it to work it needs to be regular. One of these days I will find a willing participant . . . LOL

I'm sorry! I hope that wasn't too personal when I brought up overeating ^_^ I love food, too, and although I'm not overweight I've come to discover that I will get bigger if I eat whenever I want and not when my body NEEDS to eat. For me, that's a thing of willpower because I can control it... I may feel like eating, but I will only let myself eat if my stomach goes, "HEY!" I think that's a good route to take. For most people that like games a little too much, I think they could take a similar approach. But for those real "addicts" like your ex... I think they need some extra pushing and shoving.

-- Gally

Shatril
July 1st, 2007, 02:23 PM
The escape from reality is how I used World of Warcraft for several years. At the time I didn't realize that was what it was, but it was. Once the problem was over, the addiction stopped. I stil play, but I also have a life outside the game that is rich and rewarding.

Stormbeard
July 1st, 2007, 07:07 PM
I never got addicted to Warcraft. There was a time when I was playing it almost every day, for about an hour.

However, this was because I was enjoying the game. I found it incredibly easy to put down. I'd like to thank all the idiots who play with their heads in their asses for making it that much easier.

spiritbear99
July 1st, 2007, 10:15 PM
I'd like to thank all the idiots who play with their heads in their asses for making it that much easier.

Same. Those people serve as a warning for me not to get involved in WoW >_> Or take any game THAT seriously.

Shatril
July 2nd, 2007, 11:24 AM
I never got addicted to Warcraft. There was a time when I was playing it almost every day, for about an hour.

However, this was because I was enjoying the game. I found it incredibly easy to put down. I'd like to thank all the idiots who play with their heads in their asses for making it that much easier.

I find your remark offensive, is that what you meant it to be?

Mcmacladdie
July 2nd, 2007, 05:40 PM
I can't imagine being so addicted to a game that you would rather play it than actually go out with friends to a club, or to see a movie, or whatever you might like doing. I've never really gotten into online gaming... the most I've ever played is a few hours of Diablo II, and I usually just play that one offline... when I even have it installed, that is.

Now, I have been known to play a game for several hours on end... usually RPG's (Final Fantasy, Shadow Hearts, and the like), or games like Metal Gear Solid. But if a friend calls me up and asks if I wanna go out and do something, I'll be able to put down the controller without missing a beat.

spiritbear99
July 2nd, 2007, 07:46 PM
I find your remark offensive, is that what you meant it to be?

I think he meant ppl like user "bigolalaskan"s ex who ignore their family, friends, and job to go play. At least, that's what I meant when I agreed with him >_> Seeing people do that makes me not want to ever be like that.

-- Gally

Xander67
July 4th, 2007, 11:12 PM
my sister's ex husb would go on the pc and play his game, one of the reasons why he is now EX lol